ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Get ready for a delightful change in scenery around Downtown Abilene! The Abilene Cultural Affairs Council (ACAC) will be lighting two pedestrian tunnels which connect the Cultural District to the SoDA District next Thursday. There’s a brilliant twist, though. Those lights are going to illuminate the 3D storybook mural of a soaring dragon in the tunnel behind the T&P Depot!

In a release from the ACAC, the council said this project has taken three years of planning, getting approval and fundraising before it could finally happen.

In partnership with the City of Abilene, the ACAC will be responsible for lighting the tunnels owned by Union Pacific Railroad. In one tunnel, international artist Kurt Wenner was commissioned to create the city’s only 3D mural. This mural was designed so that people can pose on a dragon’s back, and it will look like they are riding it! You can also post on a castle tower, making it look like you’re stepping off into Storybook City.

Photos above, provided by the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council, show (left) Steve Butman in the lighted tunnel, and (right) Nella at the unlit mural.

Funding was made in part through private donations and a cultural district grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts.

ACAC said, “The purpose of the new lighting and the dragon mural were to better connect the Abilene Cultural District north of the railroad tracks with the SoDA (South Downtown Abilene) district south of the railroad tracks and to use the arts as a tool for economic growth.”

The release from ACAC continued:

“With the continued growth in both districts, this latest addition of lighting should increase visitor enjoyment of downtown and ease of accessibility,” said Lynn Barnett, who has helped promote the city’s standing as the official Storybook Capital of America® through many projects and events. The ACAC has invested $6 million in the downtown Storybook Capital theme.

Barnett also cited City Manager Robert Hanna as being instrumental in the tunnel’s three-year project. Other key players included were Tim Smith, SoDA founder and downtown property owner, as well as the Abilene Chamber of Commerce.

Behind the T&P building, beginning at 2:00 p.m. January 26, you will be able to walk the lighted tunnel and see the incredible 3D art.